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Graduation then Desertion – French Ag Students Opting for a Different Path

Last week, French students at Agro Paris Tech  – France’s most prestigious agro-engineering school – staged a “call to desert” during their graduation speech. To desert? Yes, to desert the environmentally destructive engineering positions the university sets them up for after graduation. But these inspiring words and actions of these young people don’t match up to the government’s actions, nor the school’s response. A recap and analysis by Ashley Parsons. […]

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Diversification in Rural Ireland – event report

With many farms specialising, mixed farming in Ireland is now at only 3%. This compares to an EU average of 21%. Such specialisation has made Ireland vulnerable to global events as it relies heavily on feed and fertilizer imports for an export driven agri-food sector. Meanwhile, there has been a deterioration of ecosystems and a failure to reach climate targets. So what level of agri-food diversification is possible – and desirable – in Ireland? […]

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The Influence of EU Policies in National Rural Digitalisation

Digitalisation is progressing in rural areas around Europe in different ways. There are a number of reasons for variability in style and substance, as MarĂ­a Alonso-Roldán and Mar Delgado-Serrano of the DESIRA project show. The pair have engaged with experts in 15 countries. Here’s what they’ve found.  […]

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Letter From The Farm | Bridging Worlds Old and New

Meet Claire Jeannerat, who runs a sheep and goat farm with her family in the Swiss Alps. The title of shepherdess is is a true and often humbling apprenticeship with mother nature and all the uncertainties. Claire and her husband endeavour to live this vocation in a manner that respects and upholds ancient traditions that are being lost in modern society, bridging a path between the old and new. […]

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France| Keeping The Wolf From The Door

French farmers aren’t against wolves. Large predators have their role to play in the ecosystem. But with wolf poulations on the rise in many regions, livestock farmers are demanding more supports from the state to keep the wolf from the door. ValĂ©rie Geslin reports from Salon Ă  la Ferme in the French Alps. […]

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France | Why Did Le Pen Reap Record Numbers of Rural Votes?

Europe let out a sigh of relief on Sunday night with the announcement of Emmanuel Macron’s victory over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen for the French Presidency. But since her previous bid in 2017, Le Pen’s popularity has increased steadily, especially in rural France. Does her growing appeal point to a rejection of Macron’s techno-solutionism and the failures of his first term? What does it tell us about rural attitudes to Europe? Analysis by Ashley Parsons. […]

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France | Growing Vegetables, Seeding Values – Part 1

Vincent, Julie and their three employees run a small market garden in North-West France. Producing 45 vegetables, the team at La Ferme de PitouĂ© has learnt over the years the limits of diversification. In their garden, over coffee in the sunshine and a chorus of birdsong, Vincent tells us how they manage to stay true to their values on the farm. Part 1 of a conversation with ValĂ©rie Geslin. […]

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Rural Ireland on the Move – new report on Just Transition and Diversification launched.

This week ARC2020 and partner organisations release a report, and hold two events, on the topics of Just Transition and Diversification in Ireland. Targets to reduce emissions come alongside pressure for agriculture to improve its impact on biodiversity, water and air quality. Meanwhile rising feed, fertilizer and other input costs, and a sequence of recent crises – brexit, covid, and now the tragic war in Ukraine – compound the pressure. So what next for rural Ireland? […]

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Letter From The Farm | A Year In Review

We’re back on Ciasnocha Family Farm, where Mateusz is counting his blessings after a fruitful season of experimenting and investing on the farm. Luckily he found time to travel beyond the farm gate too, to seek and share knowledge, taking part in the UN Food Systems Summit, and COP26, where he championed regenerative agriculture and climate smart farming. Mateusz takes us through a memorable year on and off the farm.  […]

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Changes “required” to Ireland’s CAP Strategic Plan – European Commission

Changes in the CAP strategic Plan submitted by Ireland are “required”. In the Observation Letter sent to Ireland – which you can download below – there are a number of areas the European Commission has called for changes in. The overall green architecture itself, including eco-schemes especially, needs work, if Ireland is to achieve its environmental targets. There is a distinct lack of ambition, scoring, and incentives for stronger environmental practices. Increasing dairy herd numbers is named directly as making the necessary changes more difficult. That the letter’s language is strident in places is noteworthy. So what is the Commission asking for? And what comes next? Oliver Moore reports.   […]

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Hungary | Electoral Win for Orbán – can he keep up pro-farmer façade?

This weekend Hungarians voted Viktor Orbán’s FIDESZ party into a fourth consecutive term in government. What is the secret to Orbán’s continued popularity with rural voters, when he has been breaking promises to them for more than a decade? How will this new parliamentary majority for FIDESZ affect agriculture, farmers and rural areas in the midst of global political and economic turmoil? Analysis by PĂ©ter JĂłzsef Bori. […]

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France | Farming by Numbers part 2

Work less, age better. Instead of more money, choosing to bring in more farmers. For StĂ©phane and his associates on their six-hectare horticulture farm, GAEC Le Jardin des Pierres Bleues, every choice is calculated to yield the best outcomes for people and planet. Part 2 of a conversation with ValĂ©rie Geslin. […]

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France | Farming by Numbers part 1

StĂ©phane loves numbers, and it’s a formula for the success of the six-hectare horticulture farm, GAEC Le Jardin des Pierres Bleues, that he runs together with three associates and one employee in Vay, north-west France. By his calculation, everyone gets to earn a dignified living, true to their principles and to nature. Free of debt, and free of CAP subsidies… In conversation with ValĂ©rie Geslin. […]

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France | Cooking Up Fairer Food & Farming Part 2

The Sustainable Food Consortium is a collective of local people working to make the food transition a reality in the territory of Redon, Brittany. It began as an attempt to recreate the atmosphere of a popular farming festival. One of its co-founders, slow food cook Xavier Hamon, tells us about the journey so far, and shares his latest fair local food project – an on-farm restaurant. Part 2 of a conversation with ValĂ©rie Geslin. […]